I've never been a big fan of buying warranties on new products, whether it's a computer or even any new vehicles I've purchased in the past. When I was buying a new leather sofa, I was faced with the choice of adding on an additional 'protection plan' which is the furniture world's terminology for an 'extended warranty'.
Ultimately I decided not to purchase a protection plan for my sofa. But many always ask me if they should purchase a plan for their furniture?
While a furniture protection plan does offer some piece of mind, if you buy a quality piece of furniture and follow the proper maintenance schedule, a protection plan is not worth the investment.
What Is A Furniture Protection Plan?
When you buy a new leather sofa, before signing the credit card slip, you will be faced with one important and often costly decision. And that's whether or not you would like to purchase a furniture protection plan. Most decent furniture stores offer some level of protection plan, whether via their own warranty group or through some other external provider (the most common being Guardian Protection Plans).
Ultimately a protection plan is very similar to an extended warranty and offers reimbursement in the case of damage to your sofa in the case of an accidental spill, rip in the upholstery or any sorts of damage or gauges in the wooden structure of the furniture. The price of the plan will depend on the cost of the furniture purchased.
When I purchased my new leather sofa, I was offered the Guardian Protection Plan for $200, and it offered a five year warranty along with leather conditioner for those five years. Now the conditioner is not costly (usually only around $10-$12 for a bottle) and only needs to be applied every six months, so while there is some benefit in that being included, you are mostly paying up for the warranty.
Leather Is A Very Durable Material
As I noted if you're taking care of your leather sofa and providing the proper conditioning treatments every year, there's not much to worry about in terms of destroying your couch. Leather is very hard to penetrate, even with the worst offenders (wine as one example) and typically spills will wipe off quite easily. Plus, you'd have to be engaging in some pretty crazy things in your house in order to rip holes in your leather. Sure it happens from time to time, but it's not normal.
Furniture Warranty Companies Have A Bad Reputation
While on the surface it could seem sensible to purchase some piece of mind with an extended warranty on your leather couch, many of the companies selling the protection have not lived up to their promises in the past. One company called Stainsafe, which was used previously as a warranty company by Macy's has a horrid reputation. This expose from Consumer Reports detailed many consumer struggles in actually getting the company to live up the terms of its actual warranty plan.
Macy's (and Wayfair among others) now uses a company called Uniters, which doesn't appear to have many of the same issues as Stainsafe, but ultimately I'm fairly skeptical of these furniture warranty companies.
As for Guardian Protection (the plan that I was offered), I've done some digging, and well the reviews are not very good. All I had to do was head over to Consumer Affairs to see that Guardian has 1 1/2 stars on 119 reviews, so obviously some consumers are not very happy.
So what's the consensus on Guardian Protection?
Many, many complaints about denials on protection, seemingly, many (scratches, stains, cracks) which should have probably been covered. Notably many complaints from Bob's Discount Furniture in Massachusetts. Here's one example:
I purposely told the salesman at Bob's furniture in New Bedford that a child would be sleeping on the pullout. He promised that EVERYTHING WAS COVERED UNDER THE PROTECTION PLAN. Today I was denied because it wasn't a specific incident that they don't make clear on what is specific. I feel cheated beyond belief and I wish I never fell for their lies. All said and done, this review is all the justice I get. The protection plan is 100% a rip off.
Read The Fine Print
If after reading this article you decide that a protection plan is still for you, be sure to look at the fine print in the contract. Know what is covered and when you need to report it by. I've heard of some warranty companies that would not honor a claim since it was reported past the mandatory number of days specified in the contract. And if the damage is significant, some (not all) will only offer you a discount on a new sofa purchase.
So, Should I Buy A Protection Plan?
My recommendation is NO. I would not buy a protection plan. Based on the reputation of past and current warranty companies, I think most customers would be better off taking the money and investing in a good leather conditioning product. If you stay on regular care schedule as recommended by your sofa's manufacturer, you should be okay over the long term. Paying a few hundred extra bucks for five years of protection that might not even be there when you need it is not worth it in my opinion.